Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides comprehensive civil rights to all people with disabilities concerning issues of employment, state and local government services, transportation, telecommunications, and public accommodations. This research paper is going to show the history, strong and weak points of this Act together with current trends concerning it. The paper will also analyze the implementation of the Act by a selected company, showing the outcomes of this implementation.
Keywords: Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA, Microsoft Corporation, employment, governmental services.
Nowadays, cultural organizations, regardless of whether they receive federal financial assistance and whether they are public or private entities are obliged not to discriminate against people with disabilities, any public or private organization should comply with the ‘Americans with Disabilities At of 1990’. As a matter of fact, in 1990, Congress imposed the legislation to expand the civil rights of all people with disabilities. It covers not only federal funded organizations, but also private sector organizations which serve in public. It also includes cultural organizations which do not receive federal financial support. In fact, Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination on the ground of disability in employment, local ad state government services, commercial facilities, public accommodations, telecommunication and transportation. Everything started from ‘Rehabilitation Act of 1973’. This acts prohibited discrimination on the ground of disability in programs which were conducted by various federal agencies together with federal employment.
This Act consisted of five different sections. They prohibit the discrimination and required the affirmation actions in hiring people with disabilities by government agencies. It insisted on having affirmative action plan for hiring qualified people with various disabilities. All programs and activities which receive federal funding should be accessible to people with disabilities. And the last section, which was revised later in 1998, required all electronic or information technology to be accessible and usable by people with disabilities searching for the information or different services from federal agencies. Americans with Disabilities Act, also contains five titles. They extend various aspects of equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Title I goes about employment. It requires all employers with 15 and more employees to provide an equal opportunity to work and benefit from the full range of employment-related opportunities to people with disabilities.
Title II goes about the state and local government. It requires all local and state governments and all their agencies and departments to provide people with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from all public services, activities and programs. They include public employment, education, recreation, health care, transportation, social services, town meetings, voting and courts. Title III concerns public accommodations and services operated by various private organizations. This title requires all places of public accommodation to meet architectural accessibility standards for people with disabilities. All reasonable modifications should be provided to practices and policies, meaning that effective communication mechanisms should be provided for individuals with speech, hearing and vision disabilities. Title IV concerns telecommunications.
Historically, amendments to the Communications Acts in 1934 required telephone companies which were common carriers to provide Telecommunication Relay Services all the time. And the title addresses public services announcement’s captioning. And finally, title V goes about miscellaneous provisions. Federal laws should not supersede state laws with more stringent accessibility of provisions (Guzman & Balcazar, 2012, p. 61-62). All above mentioned concludes that this Act provides broad nondiscrimination protection in employment, public accommodations, public services operated by private entities for people with disabilities. The main aim of Act is to provide a comprehensive and clear national mandate for elimination of discrimination against people with disabilities. Despite all strong points of the Act, it has weak side. ADA was imposed on July 26, 1990, which is prior to widespread usage of the Internet. This practically means that no title specifically covers the Internet as such.
This issue has not been resolved. There are some lower courts decisions concerning this point, but Supreme Court has not addressed this issue (Byars & Rue, 2011). However, on May 26, 2010, the Subcommittee on Communications Technology and the Internet held a hearing on the ‘Americans with Disabilities Act’ and the equal access to communication as such. To my mind, this issue should be resolved as soon as possible, as our world cannot be imagined without the Internet and most practices require it. Main objective of ADA is to protect qualified individuals with disabilities. These are the people with physical or mental impairment that essentially limits the main life activities, meaning such things as caring for one, walking, hearing, seeing, speaking, learning, breathing, working, and performing manual tasks. ADA protects such individuals who can meet the essential eligibility requirements for receipt of services or participation in programs and activities. People with physical and mental damages include people with visual, hearing and visual impairments, various mental retardation, specific learning disabilities and emotional illnesses, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, noncontiguous and contagious disease as for example, HIV and tuberculosis (Brown, Takahashi, & Roberts, 2012, p. 99-102).
As a matter of fact, many companies would really like to provide individuals with disabilities with a job, but a lot of them double their own ability to keep these people safe on a job. Moreover, are also worried that employees with disabilities might unintentionally create various hazards for themselves and even other employees and that might raise worker’s compensation rates and even create a liability exposure. That is why a lot of individuals with disabilities are still excluded from the workforce. The numbers are quite scary; however, according to the numbers provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 21% of individuals with disabilities are in a labor force. The data is topical for 2011. It practically shows that American industry is ignoring a potentially valuable portion of the workforce available (Kaletta, Douglas, Binks, & Robinson, 2012).
However, there are a number of companies and corporations which are not afraid to employ people with disabilities. Microsoft Corporation is one of them. This corporation is headquartered in Redmond in Washington. This corporation is committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all qualified employees. That is why it except ADA it has Equal Employment Policy. This policy prohibits unlawful discrimination concerning color, race, sex and sexual orientation, religion, age, disabilities and veteran status. It is very positive that its equal opportunity and anti-discrimination policies cover all employees globally, as Americans with Disabilities Act concerns only USA. In fact, the corporation does everything to back up this commitment with a variety of different programs to accommodate individuals with disabilities in the workplace. Recruiters are required to interview people with disabilities with the focus of the qualifications of the applicant and not on a disability.
There is also a Disability Incursion Program Manager who helps applicants and secures the workplace and tries to do everything to meet the need of the person. The corporation provides all accommodations and they include American Sign Language interpreting, screen readers, hearing assistant devices, power interior and exterior doors, Braille displays and a lot of others. The corporation understands that there is a great number of people with disabilities who have a great potential for the corporation. That is why the corporation realizes the potential which practically creates the engine to further boosting of Microsoft and leading it to growth (Evans-Klock, 2013, p. 45-49). Moreover, Microsoft Corporation has special employee networks for low-vision and blind community, hard-of-hearing and deaf workers, for those who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, mobility damages and other. In fact, Microsoft Corporation also supports special groups for parents who have children with various disabilities.
There are obvious advantages of recruitment and employment of people with disabilities. First of all, the company which makes products which are supposed to be used by all people over the world, the company is interested to ensure that people with disabilities will be able to help create the products for all. The corporation realized that that people with disabilities have a really strong creativity and their problem solving skills are very high. The corporation requires productivity and creativity to be competitive. There are real examples, when employment of individual with disabilities made the company’s productivity. The company employed managing editor of Encarta who happened to be hard of hearing, however, he happened to be a real encyclopedia. He helped to expand some products to all users, because as the product was multimedia and it was very visual, but there have been sound bites. He explained once that the products would not be used by some student, because they would not have the access to it, as they would not be able to hear sound bites. He actually brought up an area that the corporation changed and impacted the corporation in a very positive way. As a matter of fact, nowadays company’s challenges do not concern the employment of people with disabilities, but finding them.
The company has a number of positions which are very technical. In fact, their software tests are software developers hiring people with disabilities. The company has the employees with disabilities throughout the company. As a matter of fact, company employs various techniques to attract candidates with disabilities. They attend job fairs, they give advertisements in publications, and they also have a strong recruiting component in a company. People responsible for the recruitment go to schools, colleges, and providing school and college internships together with full time employment (Chanock, Stevens, Freeman, 2012, p. 141-142). They go to organizations which provide services ad support people with disabilities, because they go there and tell that they are looking for such people, their skills are required. That definitely encourages people. The company welcomes individuals with disabilities and provides a friendly environment as they really know the value employees with disabilities are able to bring to the Microsoft Corporation (Evans-Klock, 2013, p. 44-45).
To my mind, it is already obvious that population of employees with disabilities are efficient and safe concerning general workforce. The needs of workers with disabilities should be met and it should result in management, equipment and work-culture improvements. Employees with disabilities have already proved the ability to bring benefits for the entire workforce. It is obvious from a number of companies, including Honda Motor, Ernst & Young, Mark & Spencer, Nokia, Sony and especially Microsoft Corporation.